Mario and I started Homstie in August 2008 before the beginning of our senior year at UCLA. The idea was basically Airbnb for storage. List your extra garage, closet, bedroom, backyard, or whatever and rent it out to someone who needs storage but doesn't want to pay the price of a traditional self storage facility. Cool idea but unfortunately it wasn't really working.
After spending our senior year barely doing our classwork and instead trying to start a storage company, we graduated early in March and realized we needed to figure out something to do next. The company wasn't really working, but we had noticed a bunch of mom and pop self storage owners signing up for the site attempting to fill their vacant units. That led us to do a little more research on the storage industry in general and ultimately we figured out that there was no way to comparison shop for self storage. Even though we had been booking hotels online for more than 10 years, you literally could not do that for self storage...it just didn't exist. Bingo! New idea.
We were well aware of the fact that we knew exactly nothing about everything so we figured an incubator would be a good next step to switch gears and become the Hotels.com for self storage. We applied to two programs in DC (I can't even remember what they were called) and got rejected from both. Then our other roommate, who was from Austin, told us that his older brother's boss Sam Decker was starting an incubator in Austin and we should check it out. We looked at the Capital Factory website and it looked pretty legit so we applied.
Sure enough, we got invited to do an in person interview. But then we realized we couldn't afford a plane ticket to go to Austin for that interview. So, I think somewhat begrudgingly, Josh and crew allowed us to do our interview over Skype. I remember people asking lots of hard questions.
You know that feeling where your entire future is bet on one event that you don't really control? If you are an entrepreneur in Capital Factory, I'm sure you do. We had that feeling all day every day until several weeks after our interview when I opened my email and found the best news of my life. Capital Factory had accepted us! We could keep the dream alive and not have to get a job! Score.
Then I started reading the term sheet and discovered the "Special Conditions" clause (pictured above). Those crazy bastards were forcing me to change the name of my company! Extortion!
After settling down a bit I finally accepted the fact that there was probably a reason Capital Factory wanted us to change our name. It must be really bad. Mario and I discussed and decided that the entire point of this program was to take advice from been there, done that folks who know what they are doing. So without further ado, we accepted the terms and moved to Austin.
Several weeks after moving to Austin, the name SpareFoot was born and we never looked back. Making the hard choice to listen to people we didn't know but who we respected for their experience and expertise about such a critical thing like the name of our company ended up setting the stage for our attitude toward the Capital Factory experience in general. We listened to the advice we were given.
I could write for days about everything that happened next, but in short, Capital Factory gave us legs. The mentors advised us and we listened and it worked. We wouldn't be where we are today if it wasn't for Capital Factory.